Loaded Pistols (1948)

Loaded Pistols (1948)Loaded Pistols is an American western film released in 1948 by Columbia Pictures Corporation. The film stars Gene Autry as Gene, a man who is protecting a wrongfully accused innocent from the law. Gene eventually re-enacts the crime in order to try and identify the killer.

Loaded Pistols was promoted with several taglines before and during its initial release, including "The greatest of all western stars brings you his latest thrill-topping adventure," "The West isn’t big enough to escape Gene’s vengeance," "Gene and Champion break the West wide open to ride a killer down," and "Loaded pistols and loaded dice explode into gene’s greatest adventure!"

Cast and Crew of Loaded Pistols

Loaded Pistols was directed by John English and produced by Armand Schaefer. The composition of the musical score was overseen by Paul Mertz, and Gene Autry himself had a hand in composing the score. Dwight Cummins and Dorothy Yost wrote the original screenplay for Loaded Pistols. William Bradford served as cinematographer, while Aaron Stell edited the film.

Loaded Pistols stars Gene Autry as Gene Autry, Barbara Britton as Mary Evans, Chill Wills as Sheriff Cramer, Jack Holt as Dave Randall, Russel Ames as Larry Evans, Robert Shayne as Don Mason, Vince Barnett as Sam Gardner, and Leon Weaver as Jake Harper.

The supporting cast includes Fred Kohler, Clem Bevans, Sandy Sanders, Budd Buster, John McKee, Stanley Blystone, Slim Gaut, Felice Richmon, Richard Alexander, Hank Bell, Frank O’Connor, Reed Howes, Bill Sundholm, Snub Pollard, Heinie Conklin, and Champion the horse.

Plot Synopsis for Loaded Pistols

Loaded Pistols begins when Ed Norton, a friend of Gene Autry’s, is killed while playing a dice game. Gene is extremely upset, and vows to get revenge on the killer, suspected by the public to be Larry Evans. Gene finds an old house where Evans is hiding along with his sister Mary. Mary explains to Gene that she and Larry loved Ed, who served as their parental guardian after their father died. Gene is convinced of Larry’s evidence, and offers to defend him from the police while they search for the Ed’s true killer.

After some research, Gene finds that it was indeed Larry’s gun that shot Ed, but that Larry was no longer in possession of the gun at the time of the shooting. Larry had already lost the gun in a gambling bet, and anyone could’ve been using the gun when the lights went out and Ed was killed.

An angry mob finds Gene and Larry, and Gene takes Larry to an old cabin owned by Jim Hedge, a prospector is Gene’s old friend. Gene asks Larry if he has any idea who the killer may have been, and Larry explains that it was either Don Mason or Dave Randall, both participants in the card game, who may have asked him for his gun as collateral.

Gene heads into town as Don Mason bargains with Mary to buy the Evans ranch. Mason also mentions that he’ll help Larry to escape across the border. Gene overhears their conversation, and is amazed at the large sum of money that Mason is offering for the ranch. Gene heads back to the cabin, and is followed by the sheriff. Gene warns Larry that the police are coming, but Larry assumes that Gene intentionally led them back to the cabin.

The following morning, Jim and Gene ride to the ranch, where Larry is waiting. An argument ensues, but Larry is eventually convinced that Gene is still on his side. The sheriff arrives and arrests Larry while Gene and Jim notice that Jim’s compass isn’t accurate. Gene creates a trap for the killers, and shows that Mason is the true killer. The trap involves gathering the original gambling game’s players together and re-enacting the crime. Gene places a gun on the table, the lights go out, and the gun is fired at Gene. Gene cleverly placed blanks in the gun and rubbed graphite onto the handle. It also turns out that Dave Randall and Bill Otis, another rancher, were Mason’s accomplices.

Larry’s name is cleared, and it is revealed that the source of the compass’s odd behavior was a massive lode of iron ore underneath the Evans ranch. The iron ore was the real reason why Mason framed Larry and attempted to purchase the ranch. Larry and Mary end up becoming wealthy by selling the iron ore.

Additional Information about Loaded Pistols

Loaded Pistols was the only Gene Autry movie that had a leading lady, in this case Barbara Britton, with equal billing to Gene above the title on the movie poster. Typically, the honor of being billed next to Gene was reserved for his horse, Champion.

The soundtrack for Loaded Pistols features five songs sung by Gene Autry. These songs include "Loaded Pistols," "When the Bloom is on the Sage," "A Boy From Texas, a Girl From Tennessee," "Jimmy-Crack-Corn," and "Pretty Mary."

Loaded Pistols has a running length of 78 minutes, and is currently available on DVD.